The Blaine County School District board of trustees and our community partners brought businessman Jamie Vollmer to town last week because we are ready to engage our community in a Conversation (with a capital C) about our public schools. (Watch it here: livestream.com/comlib/vollmer, courtesy of The Community Library.)

Mr. Vollmer explained that never before has a country tried to educate every child to their highest potential. Yet we must—because in today’s economy, a mere 11 percent of jobs are available to unskilled workers, down from 77 percent in the late 1960s. To have a chance at the American Dream, every child needs to graduate from high school prepared for additional education.

The good news, Mr. Vollmer continued, is that Blaine County schools teach more subjects to more kids at higher levels in more creative and dynamic ways than ever before. If you doubt that, visit a classroom. Ask a teacher about his day or a principal about the programs offered at her school. Ask our community partners about the many ways they enrich our schools. Our school system used to fail so many kids; the high school dropout rate in 1964 was 38 percent. Blaine County School District’s graduation rate is 90 percent—and striving for 100 percent—astonishing progress in my lifetime. Ask our staff what it takes to reach every child—they are incredible at what they do.

Successful schools impact every member of our community. As student achievement rises, crime and teen pregnancy drop. Successful graduates require fewer government services. Quality schools attract businesses, which increases property values and the local tax base.

The school board has taken the first step: We’ve started the conversation. Please join in! We encourage everyone to share their thoughts by email and phone and at meetings. We’d love public feedback on the Finance Committee’s proposal for a plant facilities levy at our March 16 workshop at 6 p.m. at the Community Campus.

Thank you to everyone who joined us last week!

Lara Stone, Blaine County School District trustee

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